Hybrid Workplace - The Next Normal

Kanupriya Manchanda is a self-directed & motivated professional with over 15 years of diverse Human Resources experience & is a subject matter expert in Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Employer Branding, Change & Culture management. She has completed her Doctorate in 2020. She has done her MBA from Swinburne University Melbourne, & was associated with Coles Group, Australia

In March 2020, amidst a global pandemic when most of the countries announced a nationwide lockdown, it became clear that life as we knew it was going to change in ways we couldn’t envision. Offices remained closed in the months that followed. The cases surged, the economy dwindled, and a sense of loss and uncertainty loomed in every nook and corner. Yet, in such gruesome circumstances, humanity did what humanity deserved and is best at - adapt to change, cling to hope, and did everything to feel connected again.

Working from home, banking from home, learning from home became prevalent and our homes suddenly became the only safest place to save ourselves from the virus. We navigated through working from homes with a lot of learning and it was surprisingly effective, but there is one big catch: employers must confront the broadening disconnect between how they and their employees see the future of work and most of the employers foresee a spike in attrition and disengagement.

In such scenarios, what works best is the hybrid model of work aiming to provide an optimal balance of productive work with reduced stress and less commuting; where the option of working both from office and home is open to employees and they can choose as per their convenience and work commitments.

What makes a hybrid work model suitable for employees during the ongoing pandemic and even after that, in my opinion, is that a hybrid workplace model is more comforting, with the flexibility of working anytime, anywhere, it encourages a stronger work-life balance, helps ease anxiety employees may have relating to returning to office premise or commuting on public transit. It is also economical to stay at home and work.

For organizations; a hybrid workplace can help build a crisis resilient culture as it prepares employees for potential future lockdowns. Organizations offering a combination of in-office and remote employees will have access to a larger talent pool to work with, as there is no geographical restriction. Additionally, with less reliance on large-scale offices and other office utilities, organizations can save enormous amount of money in real estate and office maintenance costs.

Finally, a hybrid workplace, with fewer occupied seats, tends to reduce the spread of contagious viruses and also offers an option to employees who are not willing to get vaccinated to stay at home.

As we have learned and unlearnt a lot of things to make ourselves next normal ready, we also have to learn to embrace the culture of the hybrid model of working and do our bit to offer an inclusive, secure, flexible, supportive, and adaptable environment for all employees, regardless of their function, workstyle, or device.

Afterthought: Let’s be prepared for everything because while we have our plans, it appears that the virus has some other.